Sunday, December 6, 2015

Closing this chapter of the Vanventures

Leaving Becca's in the morning! Love this girl!
She headed to class on her bike and was moving much faster then us in the car:)
On our way to the Obed!!!
Our last  month on the road was filled with our favorite places, people, and all around great times. We always knew we were coming back to the Lilly Pad before we even left last year. It has the best climbing, people, and puppies anywhere!! Del has built and is working on getting his home brewery up and running! It looks great and will be an awesome addition to the Obed scene. Marte is still working on her "signature" dish to share. Zach and I got to sample quite a few and I must say, they would all be awesome in my opinion (but anything free and tasty wins in my book)! I was lucky enough to spend more time with Bryson this year and get to know her! We had a blast chatting and job hunting for her:) 
Monster remembered us!!! (we think) She is such a cool dog!

The climbing here is crazy!!

The newest dog, Big! He is another awesome pup who keeps the coyotes out.
We had some great music nights around the fire with Suzi and Decker, but also got to go to the weekly FOFI (Fellowship of Friendly Intentions) meeting in Wartburg! Suzi's husband, Jimmy, and I had lots to talk about with our shared interest in all things flying, Oshkosh, and Bob Hoover! Thanks for opening your homes and lives up to us for a bit! We love our Obed crew!!
Five hours away in South Carolina, we got to spend the week with Zach's mom, Stephanie. It was a wonderful week of hiking, great food, games, and spending time together! Thanks for hosting us and spending your week with us!!
Thanksgiving dinner!! So much yummy!!

An intense game of dominoes:)

Zach finds climbing everywhere:)

And me too apparently:)
A little friend.
A nature hike. I found donkey ears:)
To cap off our East Coast loop, we pushed down into Florida to spend time with Zach's family near Sarasota. We enjoyed spending the day with Zach's uncles, Joe and Paul, and Grandma on Saturday before going sailing and kayaking with Dan and Mel along the inter-coastal waterway and out into the Gulf of Mexico! Dan was an excellent captain and even taught the two of us to sail a little. I was convinced I would tip us over, but he kept us upright and on course. Zach pointed out a sombrero he saw floating in the water. We all looked over just in time to see it look at us and dive under the water! It was a sea turtle! On our last little bit of kayaking before the sun set, dolphins swam around us and within about 10 feet! It was a beautiful end to a beautiful few days in Florida! Zach's Grandma and I watched a Disney movie one night called the Descendants. We spent the entire movie trying to figure out what was going on, but we were able to predict every time the were going to burst out into song!! It was pretty funny:) Florida is a great place to be, especially when Kansas and Colorado are being snowed and iced on...
The back seat of the convertible! Felt good to have the ocean breeze in our hair!
Chinese food lunch with Dan, Mel, Vivian, Paul, Zach, and Joe! Awesome group!

Zach at the helm!
Trying to get used to the angle at which sailing occurs;)

Our motley crew!

I found a hatch!

Love these sunsets!

Zach and Dan.
Man over board!
Really just Zach swimming behind and floating on the MOB rescue device:)
It took us two days to drive out of Florida and into Arkansas where we found free camping and climbing near Jasper. Sam's Thrown is an area with trad climbing that we really enjoyed. My very first outdoor climbing trip was 4 1/2 years ago to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch near Jasper. It was great to take Zach back there and see how far I've come!! We challenged ourselves to climb ten routes that day which was the hardest on our soft skin and feet!! The water down in Florida did not help keep our climbing calluses, but we had a blast and climbed ourselves silly!! 
These signs mean it in Arkansas!

Looking out over the valley where Sam's Throne is!

Hanging out with a pony at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.
On our drive to my parent's house in Kansas, we started reflecting on the past year and a few months. It has been the best way to spend our time and money! We have gained so much from having the freedom to go where we wanted, when we wanted, and do what we wanted! That freedom doesn't come along everyday in life. We get comfortable where we are and even though we want to make a change, its scary and complicated and a lot of work! This trip has given me the courage to make the changes and to see it really is not that hard or complicated. Our dream was to be able to live in a van for one year. We saved our money, made plan, and had such and amazing year!! Looking back, I don't know how we would have gone to all of those places and met or visited all of those people within one year. 
I really didn't know a lot Zach's family that well before we started this trip. The love and caring I felt along the road for the Wahrer's and Young's was amazing!!! Zach also got to meet and spend time with my loved ones in Kansas, Arizona, Oregon, Montana, and Wyoming. We felt love and support the whole way as well as learning to love and support each other in close quarters. It was an epic adventure and an amazing way to live our lives for the year! 
One more amazing thing is how excited we are for the next phase of our lives. As we put that last few miles on the van towards Kansas, we talked about how amazing this year has been, but also how we are ready for the next chapter. I have taken a travel RN position in Las Vegas and we are so happy to have a place to be for the next three months that has climbing in warm weather AND I get to be on day shift!!!! Zach is going to focus full time on his writing and I, along with many others, are very excited to see the next chapter of the Dawn Saga!! His first novel, Breakers of the Dawn, was written while he had a full time job and it is excellent! I can't wait to see what he comes up with as a full time author!! 
I was concerned going into this trip that we might end the vanventures feeling sad and disappointed to go back to a "normal" life. But it is the complete opposite! We feel this trip has allowed us to see the alternatives and realize we can do things different. I feel confident in our future and I am very happy to continue my adventure with Zach!!
My adventure buddy for LIFE:)
Thank you all for your love, support and encouragement as we took this lifestyle on! It was fun to share it with you and I really appreciate the fact that you read these posts and shared your likes and comments!